What Does the Sheer Yoga Pant Scandal Say about Us?

Via Anne Falkowski
on Mar 20, 2013
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Are see-through yoga pants worthy of front-page headlines?

Bonus: Dressing for Yoga in the Post-Lululemon Transparent Pants Era.

Apparently the media thinks so.

Yesterday, my hubby texted me the story. Secretly, I knew he hoped I would return my $100 dollar pair of yoga pants (Sorry Babe, I bought a different style than the one being recalled) or that this headline would point out the evil of my ways. Why would anyone, especially a yogi, spend so much money on a yard or so of stretchy material just to cover their butt in a flattering way?

I get it. Every time I purchase this expensive brand of clothing, I feel a faint tug at my conscience.  What am I doing in this dressing room, trying on over-priced spandex?  I tell myself they wash well and keep the saggy extra-fluffy parts of my body in check. But then there is the question of slippery business practices and being part of an industry that perpetuates yoga clothing as a status symbol. More gnawing at my insides as I pull the neon colored Luon top over my head. Oh these thumb-holes are perfect.

But more interesting to me than my own need for inquiry into my personal buying practices and yoga ethics, is the media’s fascination with the yoga pants recall?

lululemon buttIs it the image of a roomful of half naked women showing their panty lines (yes, the specific style was made for women only) while in downward dog a guaranteed way to drive up ratings?

Or perhaps that we were duped to spend a lot of money on an inferior product in the name of beauty, fitness or vanity? (I’m not sure this is big news.)

Or maybe, like my husband suspects about me, (he is a yogi as well) there is something missing in our understanding of yoga if we are compelled to spend billions of dollars on yoga pants and support a company that uses enlightenment slogans to get us to buy their wares.

Maybe the naughty peekaboo is not the transparency of pants which reveal our lady business, but why we feel we the need to purchase these pants, that cost sometimes over $100, in the first place. Do we feel the need to cover up a collective low self-worth on the inside with something visibly expensive and attractive which screams out to the world, “I do yoga!”

Does the right brand of clothing make us a more authentic yogi?  I know most of us would say absolutely not. So then I ask you and I ask myself, what is wrong with spending less money on a cheaper quality yoga pant? Or, if we are going to spend the big bucks, lets put our money into smaller companies with fair business practices.

Next time I sit down on my folded blanket to begin my yoga practice, I will remind myself that I am about to embark on yoga.  Yoga means to unite. I will ask myself what is it I want to join with? What do I want to connect with so badly I am willing to fight and change for. Fight my demons and tame the part of me that believes she is never good enough.

Forgetting what yoga is all about is the real scandal.

How can I let myself be naked to my truth, regardless of the quality and coverage of my yoga pants?

As yogis, let’s become one with love, acceptance, strength, courage, clarity and the ability to do the right thing.

Even when we’re feeling insecure, and everyone—regardless of yoga ability—experiences doubt, fear and insecurity from time to time. Yoga is about the transformation and liberation of our inner-self. Ancient yogis in caves didn’t care about six-pack abs or buns of steel. They cared about getting free from the ways they imprisoned their own happiness. The need to bolster our yoga status in pricey pants at the expense of our paychecks and mindful business practices is not freedom.

But like many yogis trying to live mindfully in a world that glorifies outer beauty, youth, status, power, and money, sometimes we forget. This is why it is so important to return to your yoga practice over and over again. Practicing yoga reminds you that what you got covering your ass doesn’t matter at all. The yoga mat could care less.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Anne Falkowski

Anne Falkowski has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 15 years. Currently she is obsessed with Forrest Yoga and can't possibly relax her neck enough. She writes for her blog and owns a yoga studio in Connecticut. Contact her by email


28 Responses to “What Does the Sheer Yoga Pant Scandal Say about Us?”

  1. lisa says:

    thanks for another thought provoking article! Even my 6 yr old great-niece noticed the little Omega logo on my Lulu pants this past weekend (her babysitter works there)…mine were rescued from the lost and found years ago before the monthly Goodwill run…my Lulu tops were gifts from Lulu to be a "product tester" after teaching in their store a few times over the past several years. otherwise, it's the yoga teacher deal from prana…. i love wearing comfortable yoga clothes when i teach and practice..ones that are easy to take care of and last long…and ones which don't cause wardrobe malfunctions…but only because then I CAN focus on my practice….if old jeans and a t shirt would be comfy i'd be wearing that instead to be honest.

    it is interesting how many will drop big bucks to wear high profile overpriced yoga gear yet getting a class filled up at $5-$10 (my rates at my home studio) class is quite challenging. yoga in the west..in general it's def. still more about asana…but it's evolving for sure. i am too… xo

  2. Robyn says:

    Kohl's: special yoga pants that hold everything in – $15!

  3. Hypatia99 says:

    Will they hold up after a few washings tho?

  4. Robyn says:

    Mine have! I have lots of "cheap" yoga clothes from Target and Kohl's and wear them constantly, and all have held up really well. I can't compare to $100 ones, but I'd say the quality seems just fine. That's just my opinion, though.

  5. Anne says:

    Thanks for the comments. Obviously I don't think there are yogis out there crying because of a pant recall like the media would like to have us believe. When writing this II could have taken the easy route here and write something like, "Anybody who spends that kind of money on yoga pants is obviously a moron. But the fact is so many of us have and do. So I think it is worth an inquiry. On the lighter side, I do appreciate the clothing tips.

  6. Noreen says:

    Yea, there was always something pulling at me, that supporting yoga fashion was not quite yoga. So I buy cheap, on sale, and try to look for products that are made at home. But your article reminded me that I can be even more vigilant about all my purchases, taking the time and making the effort to support products that exemplify the values I want to be "joined" to. Namaste!

  7. bob not a yogi says:

    Yet another insightful and well written piece. Thank you, Anne.

  8. Lucy says:

    Comming from Indonesia where a pair of yoga pants costs me less than $10, I could never buy lulu lemon brand! Now that I am living in Canada, I still shop smart, there is a lot of good quality unknown brands out there that cost between $15-25 and last! I go to yoga almost every day and I only have 2 yoga pants and so often using leggings to my yoga class, and it works fine. I think yoga in the west has suffered as many view the practice as more of a fashion show than a means of personal transformation. The practice should make us humble and help us diminish our ego and not the opposite.

  9. Anne says:

    Thanks bob. Love the name.

  10. shanan says:

    Great article – good, thoughtful piece. thanks!

  11. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for your article. I completely agree that yoga culture has been missing the point for years, and companies like lululemon prey on both the community's yogic pretensions and its vanity. As a person who's been practicing for more than three decades, and did not get into it because it was the hip thing to do, the way yoga has entered the mainstream is pretty disappointing.

    As for high-quality yoga pants, lululemon certainly does not have a monopoly. There are ethical companies who make quality workout wear such as Patagonia and Stonewear Designs, whose clothing is all made in the US.

  12. Jim McMahon says:

    I buy brand name yoga clothes because they work well with yoga – they stretch at the right times in the right places….or they stay in place when you're upside down. That helps too. It's not totally necessary but I don't harbor guilt over it. Then again I don't have an extensive yogi wardrobe either.

  13. Anne says:

    Well I think you nailed it for me Jim. I think to have a few choice articles of clothing because of quality and functionality is absolutely fine but some of us (myself included) walk the line of having more than that.

  14. E Allen says:

    They need to work on their ego rather going to practice to show off what they wear.

  15. It's so refreshing to hear a voice on the internet asking meaningful questions and lifting perspective out of the sensational froth. Thank you for a very thoughtful and useful post. Nicely done.

  16. dianabonyhadi says:

    Seems to me that a lot of the folks who are buying this brand are not yogi's, but rather teen age girls who wear them to school and to hang out with their friends. Lucky them for having parents with pants with deep pockets. I have yoga pants from several different companies, and the pair from the company in question is my least favorite. As a fellow yoga teacher, I spend all day in my yoga pants, and so look for them to be respectable, appropriate and durable.

  17. Mke says:

    Who the heck should really care? If a hundred dollar pair of pants makes you feel good or will actually send you to a yoga class then so be it. I am an Ultra Distance Runner, a cancer survivor, I run in high tech gear and just everyday clothes. It's not the gear that makes you, it's desire and perserverence. Whatever you wear, it's not the point. Good God people grow up.

  18. Anne says:


  19. Joshua says:

    I wonder what Indians think of this Lululemon B.S.

  20. BCE says:

    I like MKE's response. Lets face some facts, the west is the west, the masses are not going to embrace the kind of yoga that is done in india. Yoga there is about finding god, not mastering your headstand. Good luck trying to get a class of americans to sit for 30 minutes in meditation, you will have a riot on your hands. But if expensive clothes get people into your class, then you have an opportunity to give them little pieces of what is dear to you in yoga. No matter what,the fact they are there, they will get the calming effects. But you shouldnt expect every person who practices yoga to believe exactly as you do. that isnt very yoga itself.

  21. Annie Parker says:

    I will just stick with my yoga pants from Khol's and not worry about my "business" being everyone else's business.

  22. Courtney says:

    I have to say, the reason I purchase more expensive clothing is, in the long run, it generally feels better, fits better, and lasts longer. I don't know how many pieces of clothing (not yoga or exercise clothes, but just clothes) I've bought from Target, Banana Republic, or the cheap boutique down the street that with one washing (on cold, no drying) shrink, develop holes, or fade – so you'll get from the list of stores I've named that some of this clothing is super cheap, and some is a tad expensive. Over the years I've bought a variety of workout clothes, and I've found certain brands will last, others have the same issues my clothes have. So I'll gladly spring $60 or 70 on a pair of yoga pants that I can wear, wear, wear without looking and feeling worn. Personally, I've never tried lululemon's products, so I can't comment on those in particular, but I hate to see a debate about merely the price of a product without taking into account the quality. If price were all that mattered, indie & small biz designers wouldn't exist, nor would choice at your local department or discount store. We'd all be wearing the same rock-bottom-priced athletic wear from Wal-Mart.

  23. Anne says:

    I appreciate your comments and do agree with you that price is not all that matters. I too buy clothes that hold up and last and will pay for that. My article was more about yoga clothing as a status symbol and how we as yogis are spending alot of money, on yes high quallity pants, but also on a company that perpetuates yoga elitism, and preys on the yogis need to be elevated as worthy of these expensive clothing. The comapny also has questionable business practices. They are known to create scarcity of a product to drive up sales, But even beyond that it was about what do we stand for? I know for me, I sometimes forget, I too have gotten caught up in making sure I look the best I can in a crowd of yogis. Feeling the pressure to buy something new when there are plenty of things in my closet to suffice. I know that I am not alone here and there are lots of others out there like me.

  24. BBolder says:

    "Honey, how can I run fast, if I don't look fast?" – FloJo, when asked about her 3" long fingernails, just before she blew away the field at the 1988 Olympics, becoming the fastest woman in the world (a record that still stands).

    Wear what represents you. Whatever it is, own it. (I wear simple black running shorts).

  25. Anne says:

    love this and it lines up with what I believe. The yoga mat doesn't care what you got covering your ass. Don't get pressured into conforming. Be who you are. Put that on the mat.

  26. Joy Ali says:

    As an Indian, I think Lululemon goes against a lot of what Yoga aims to teach 🙁

  27. Joy says:

    I love your article… I have actually recently changed yoga studios, one of the reasons was because I was the ONLY person to not be wearing Lululemon. I felt so out of place. In the four months I was there, no one spoke to me, no one attempted to befriend me, and the room overflowed with unbearable pretension. It is wonderful to be able to buy and wear a type of clothing which guarantees you comfort and wonderful quality, but I believe that what the company stands for, and the perpetuation of yoga elitism, goes against everything that Yoga aims to teach and bring into the world.
    Yoga is not about what brand you wear, how you look, or if your leggings matches your water bottle and/or mat. It is about union, breath, life, health, wellbeing, prayer, focus, practice, dedication, love, joy, happiness… People from the South-East of Asia practice in traditional clothes, ill fitted clothing, or any cloth they can wrap around them. They don't have lycra, some don't have mats. They pose on stone floors or the sandy ground outside, they practice on the Earth. But their dedication does not waver or fluctuate. I believe that these people are the true Ambassadors of Yoga

  28. YogaLove says:

    It goes to show you that the public now gets the hypocrites that lululemon seems to now reveal to the world accidentally through their see-through pants. This is just the tip of the iceberg where the company is faltering and where it is headed. I would like to give back to those smaller companies that authentically stand behind their values, and lululemon is definitely not one of them.